Ms. Splosion Man is Twisted Pixel’s newest XBLA title, which is a followup to 2009’s smash hit Splosion Man. On the surface this game looks like it could just be a copy and paste job, with the only change being the lead characters sex.
If you have ever played Splosion Man, Ms. Splosion Man controls the same exact way, and the goal of each level is also pretty much the same. You play as Ms. Splosion Man, who is made entirely out of splosion, and your only goal is to get to the end of each level. You only have one ability, which is to ‘splode, and can be accomplished by pressing the A, B or X button on the controller. You are able to ‘splode three times in the air, before having to wait for a recharge. One may think to themselves, “How hard could this possibly be?”, well the answer is, very hard. There are many obstacles blocking your path on the way to the end of each level, but none of them seem like copy and paste jobs from Splosion Man. Each level has its own unique flavor, which allows this game to stand apart from its predecessor. Throughout many levels there are rails that Ms. Splosion Man glides across, and you have to time jumps correctly or you will fall to your death. This game also ventures outside of the science facility, unlike Splosion Man, where the whole game was inside. In these outside levels, there are also usually cannons that you have to time and shoot yourself out of correctly, or face death. If at any point the game gets too hard, you are able to cheat and jump forward to the next checkpoint. Be warned, you will lose your total score for the level, and Ms. Splosion Man will also suffer with a plague of her own.
Another new feature in this game is the addition of ghosts. You are able to play alongside the top scorers or fastest completed times on the leaderboards. This way you can learn from others how to best tweak your run, to get the best possible time. Also, if you replay a level you have already beat, your own ghost will be there as well, so you can see if you are ahead, or behind of your previous run. This feature will allow those who like to speed-run a nice opportunity to be able to show off their handiwork to the rest of the world.
This time around, there is also a world map, instead of just a list of levels. This allows you to skip certain hard levels entirely, and still be able to beat the game. Certain levels in the game also have multiple exits. If you find the hidden exit, this will open up a new path on the world map, to a hidden level. There are a total of 3 worlds, and each world has a handful of hidden levels. In each world map you will find the mall where you can unlock new items. The mall is also available at the main menu, so this just adds a way to be able to unlock items, without having to back out to the main menu.
Throughout each level, there is also a hidden item, just like Splosion Man‘s cakes, which gets you bonus points, and also counts towards achievements. In Ms. Splosion Man the item is a pair of shoes. Collecting the shoes on each level adds to the difficulty, and in my opinion, made it much more difficult, since they are usually hidden right after a very hard section, but before a checkpoint. After dying a few times trying to collect shoes, and having to replay a very hard section, I stopped looking for them all together. Though for some, collecting shoes will add to the re-playability of the game. For me, it just became a pain.
Ms. Splosion Man also touts a completely separate multiplayer campaign. This mode can be played local, over Xbox LIVE, or solo with a single controller. The new feature in this game mode is the ‘2 girls 1 controller’ mode which has you controlling both characters with one controller. One Ms. Splosion Man is controlled by the left joystick, where the LT causes the splosion, and the other by the right joystick, with the RT controlling her splosion. This mode is very difficult, and the game is meant to be played with two people, but if you prefer playing solo, or you have no friends with the game, this option will work for you.
Ms. Splosion Man is only 800 Microsoft Points ($10) and also includes two avatar awards throughout the game. Both of the awards have to be unlocked in the in-game mall, which is also where the ‘2 girls 1 controller’ mode is found. The way this works is, as you beat each level you are given coins depending on your score. The score is based on many factors, from how fast you beat it, to if you collected the hidden pair of shoes. Some items, like the second avatar item, can only be purchased once you beat the game in either single player or multiplayer mode.
As with the last Splosion man game, there is also a hidden cameo to a previous Twisted Pixel title. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but in Splosion Man the cameo was The Maw, the previous title, and Ms. Splosion Man also has a cameo to a previous Twisted Pixel title. This game also has the usual Twisted Pixel humor that is present in all of their games. Ms. Splosion Man randomly quotes songs having to deal with woman issues, and walks around on her tippy toes, and psuedo roller blades.
The game has 50 unique single player levels and 50 unique multiplayer levels. Each mode also has a unique ending, though each ending can be purchased via the mall once you beat the game. Twisted Pixel has also announced that they can update the game for free, without the need to download an update, to add additional challenges. This will work over the CMS, the same way Super Meat Boy is able to add levels for free, and Monday Night Combat can tweak settings and not require any update to be downloaded. This works because Microsoft allows small text updates to update tickers in games, but developers have found ways to be able to tweak the game using the same process.
Overall Ms. Splosion Man is another excellent platformer, that follows in the footsteps of Splosion Man. The game does stand on its own though, and adds many new concepts in the levels. In my opinion, this game is more difficult then the original, but it is still a fun game, which may only occasionally make you want to throw your controller at the screen. There are not many XBLA games that come out anymore at the 800 MSP pricepoint, and when they do, the quality usually suffers. Ms. Splosion Man is an amazing game, and well worth the asking price. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys platformers, especially if you like more sadistic games like Super Meat Boy.
*Twisted Pixel provided SlimGamer.com with a promo code for a review copy.